Friday, January 27, 2012

Was Romney Sincere?

Ann Coulter recently wrote that Mitt Romney is a true conservative. In his 1994 Senate race against Ted Kennedy, Romney affirmed his support for Roe vs. Wade. Now, however, he claims to be pro-life. Ann Coulter states the following about this:

“Romney’s one great ‘flip-flop’ is on abortion. (I thought the reason we argued with people about abortion was to try to get them to ‘flip-flop’ on this issue. Sometimes it works!) Nearly two decades ago, when Romney was trying to defeat champion desecrator of life Sen. Teddy Kennedy, he sought to remove abortion as a campaign issue by declaring that he, too, supported Roe v. Wade. (Nonetheless, Kennedy ran a campaign commercial against him featuring a Mormon woman complaining that Romney, as a Mormon elder, had pressured her not to have an abortion, but to give the child up for adoption. Are you getting the idea that Massachusetts is different from the rest of America, readers?) Romney changed his mind on abortion — not when it was politically advantageous, but when it mattered. As governor of liberal, pro-choice Massachusetts, he vetoed an embryonic stem cell bill and ‘worked closely’ with Massachusetts Citizens for Life. The president of MCL recently issued a statement saying that, ‘since being elected governor, Mitt Romney has had a consistent commitment to the culture of life.’”

Coulter appears to be saying two things, which may be contradictory. On the one hand, she is saying that Romney went from being pro-choice to being pro-life when he was Governor of Massachusetts, which is basically Romney’s story. On the other hand, she seems to be implying that Romney only pretended to be pro-choice when he was running against Ted Kennedy because Romney sought to “remove abortion as a campaign issue” in a state that was rabidly liberal.

If the latter is the case, then I have serious issues with Mitt Romney. Here’s why: According to an article in Salon by Justin Elliott, a close relative of Romney died in an illegal abortion in 1963, which was prior to Roe vs. Wade. This lady was the sister of Romney’s brother-in-law. When Ted Kennedy in 1994 was attacking Romney for being “multiple-choice” on abortion, since Romney opposed abortion yet said that he wanted it to be legal, Romney sought to buttress his pro-choice credentials by talking about how the death of his relative shaped his views on abortion. Romney fired back to Kennedy:

“On the idea of ‘multiple-choice,’ I have to respond. I have my own beliefs, and those beliefs are very dear to me. One of them is that I do not impose my beliefs on other people. Many, many years ago, I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that.”

I hope that Romney was sincere when he was speaking those words, and wasn’t just using his relative’s death to score political points. I would be disgusted at an insincere use of such a tragedy for political gain. But I would understand Romney appealing to that tragedy to explain how he became pro-choice.


  1. I had my real issues with his switch until I saw this video. It was convincing enough for me.

  2. I'll have to watch that. Mary Ann Glendon is certainly a pro-life icon.

  3. James,
    Isn't it possible for Romney to have been prochoice in terms of the law but be prolife in his own life and beliefs (when Kennedy was running ads against him)? That's what might explain him allowing that abortion be legal for certain instances but personally counciling women to not have abortions. Kind of the keep abortion safe legal and rare idea that democrats sometimes advocate.

  4. Yeah, I think that was his official position when he ran against Kennedy. I wonder why Kennedy would criticize him over that, though, since Kennedy was a Catholic and may have held the same sort of view.

  5. Here's a good article I found on this topic:

  6. Yeah, I'd like to think that politicians telling anecdotes about their own lives are being sincere and authentic. Guess I should disabuse myself of that notion!

  7. I was making the observation "politics" more in regards to what you said about Kennedy but yeah it applies to all politicians.

  8. The thing is, though, even if Kennedy was attacking Romney because of politics, I'd expect Kennedy's attack to make a degree of sense. It wouldn't make sense for Kennedy to attack Romney for believing essentially what Kennedy believes----that abortion is wrong but we shouldn't impose that view on others. But, then again, not everything politicians do or say makes sense!


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